Market Share of Hybrid Cars Falls Despite More Models

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You’d think that with more automakers building hybrid cars, the market share of partially-electrified vehicles would be growing, but it isn’t. A new report shows that the market share of hybrid vehicles has fallen, despite there being twice as many models offered as just 5 years ago.

There are now 47 hybrid cars for sale by automakers covering just about every market segment, though the Toyota Prius line remains the dominant force with 40% of the hybrid market. That’s down from 55% just 3 years ago, but since 2009 the number of hybrid models available has doubled, so there’s a lot more competition for buyer’s dollars. In California, the Honda Accord has replaced the Prius as the best-selling vehicle in the Golden State. Heck, even Chrysler is finally going to offer consumers a hybrid minivan.

Even so though, since 2009 the hybrid market has only grown by .6 percentage points according to an IHS/Polk study, or about 25%. In 2013, hybrids ended up with 3.5% of the new car market, but through the first quarter of 2014, hybrid cars cornered just 3% of the market. While sales are expected to rebound somewhat, hybrid cars aren’t the only option for buyers wanting an efficient car.

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Small-displacement turbos, diesels, electric and plug-in hybrids are all making big gains in terms of fuel economy, and oftentimes the hybrid price premium doesn’t justify the extra MPGs. There’s also been concern over the MPG testing methods of the EPA, with Ford suffering from a downward revision of its Fusion Hybrid and C-Max models. But while sales of the Fusion Hybrid have grown, interest in the C-Max has dropped by almost the same margin.

Hybrid cars have always been seen as “transitional” vehicles, and I’m certainly not ready to say the market has already moved past them. But now that there are more options in the diesel, EV, and compact market that appeal to MPG fanatics, the glossy sheen of hybrid cars may be finally wearing off.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.